Craft By Zen

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Broken Windows - Software Entropy Revisited

In one chapter from The Pragmatic Programmer, they have a chapter dedicated to Software Entropy. In it, the author explains…

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In inner cities, some buildings are beautiful and clean, while others are rotting hulks. Why? Researchers in the field of crime and urban decay discovered a fascinating trigger mechanism, one that very quickly turns a clean, intact, inhabited building into a smashed and abandoned derelict.

A broken window.

One broken window, left unrepaired for any substantial length of time, instills in the inhabitants of the building a sense of abandonment -— a sense that the powers that be don’t care about the building. So another window gets broken. People start littering. Graffiti appears. Serious structural damage begins. In a relatively short space of time, the building becomes damaged beyond the owner’s desire to fix it, and the sense of abandonment becomes reality.

The “Broken Window Theory” has inspired police departments in New York and other major cities to crack down on the small stuff in order to keep out the big stuff. It works: keeping on top of broken windows, graffiti, and other small infractions has reduced the serious crime level.